In September, 12 rat rod builders, 12 rat bike builders, and last year's winner will be challenged to build a drivable machine in 30 days with a budget of $3000 or less – and then drive those machines at least 300 miles to the Redneck Rumble in Lebanon TN. (The main group will travel from Steelfest in St Louis MO one week before the Rumble, and participants are encouraged to take this route.)
Builders are chosen randomly – this is NOT an invitational. However, ANYONE can enter their name into the drawing. Names are literally pulled from a hat... 12 rat rod builders, 12 rat bike builders, and 10 alternates each. (last year's winner will also be defending his title.) Ride Hard Magazine will draw the names of the bike builders and manage that side of the competition, while Rat Rod Magazine will draw the rat rod names and manage that side of the competition. Builders can enter one or both classes - and yes, CAN be picked for both classes simultaneously. Teams can consist of one guy, 20 guys, a single garage, a full-blown shop – it doesn't matter. Whoever wants to throw their name in the ring and is able to build and travel is welcome to enter. Now keep in mind this competition is powered solely by the builders. There is no money infused by either magazine or any TV companies. Everyone is doing this of their own volition and of their own budgets. Builders retain complete ownership of their vehicles.
The $3000 budget is judged by using a Perceived Value system. Many builders have stuff lying around that they can use, or they have odds & ends they do not have to purchase. These are counted at market/scrap value. If you have a blown Hemi in your garage that you got for free – it does not count as free. Maybe you think it's worth $3000, fine... it's the builders job to sell that to our judges and the public. Convince us the value of your car or bike is under $3000. We're not going to police the hell out of this – we're not going to track every part... but this is a matter of pride. Can you dig up enough scrap parts to build a car for $500? If you can, its going to play into your favor, as our judges – and the public – are looking for resourcefulness and creativity. There is an honor system here: this competition is run as if you were betting your best friend who can build a cooler car for less than $3000. Sure you can bend the rules, stretch the budget, cheat a little bit... but you won't because it's a matter of pride. Our judges are industry professionals and builders like yourself – some of them have even competed in this competition. They are going to know what the value of your car or bike is. If you got a great deal on some old used parts, cool... tell the story. Maybe you made an awesome swap meet buy. One of last year's competitors even sold his scrap and recycled it into his budget – which got high marks from the judges.
One thing you CAN'T do, is take free or donated parts from a business. Sponsorships are not allowed, and the finished car or bike can't contain sponsor decals or logos – other than the shop in which it was created. (simply put: we don't want you getting a killer deal on an engine in exchange for putting Joes Motors on your car. It destroys the integrity of the competition, and it's way too easy to get sponsored parts with the amount of exposure surrounding the build-off.)
We also stress safety first. These cars and bikes need to be roadworthy. They may break down, and that's fine – builders are not penalized for that, but are judged more on how they resolve the issues on the fly. If a car is over budget because the builder put extra money into building a safe vehicle, that's much more acceptable than if the builder went over budget adding horsepower.
All vehicles must be properly titled, tagged, and insured. Registration and insurance does NOT count against the budget.
While the official route is still being drawn out, we do know that the starting point of the drive-off portion of the event will be at Shapiro Steelfest on Sunday September 14 in St Louis MO. ALL build-off entries will have to arrive in Lebanon TN at the Redneck Rumble by Saturday September 20th – and have traveled at least 300 miles under their own power – to be eligible for prizes. Disqualified vehicles are still very much welcome at any point... we want to see them, and we want to tell the story of the build and drive even if the cars or bikes don't make it. Builders are encouraged to travel with the main group from St Louis to Lebanon, however, as long as the car or bike is driven into Lebanon under it's own power and has traveled at least 300 miles any route is acceptable. If an alternate route is taken, that build team is responsible for documenting the travel. (yes, if you travel alone you must prove you completed the challenge. If we can't verify that the drive was completed properly, you may be disqualified.)
The main group travels at a leisurely pace and makes frequent gas stops conducive to a large caravan. Again, participants are not required to make every stop or travel with the group. There are benefits to sticking with everyone else though – the abundance of tools, parts, chase vehicles, and people to help if there are any issues. It's also beneficial to stay in the same hotels, etc. (Lodging suggestions will be released later on... all of which are chosen based on location, rates, parking space, ease of access, and so on.)
It's very important that all competitors make themselves accessible. We need to photograph, film, and judge everything that's happening. If a builder lags behind or doesn't stick with the main group, he may get much less exposure in the magazines and film footage. We can't be everywhere... we're dependent on the group participation, or people pitching in with the documentation. (Those traveling outside of the group are expected to take photos or shoot video.)
Both Ride Hard Magazine and Rat Rod Magazine will feature each build-off contestant as well as the entire Tour and competition. Builders are required to photograph or film the build portion of the competition themselves. These photos and videos will be posted via Facebook and other various websites so the public (and judges) can follow along. These images may also be used in the magazines and video documentaries, however – they do not have to be high quality. (phone captures work just fine)
The winner of both rat rod and rat bike classes will appear on the covers of both Rat Rod Magazine and Ride Hard Magazine.
During the drive-off portion of the competition the public will be able to cast their votes via email, while our judges (embedded in the Tour) will cast their votes upon arrival in Tennessee. The final winners will be determined by a mix of public vote and judges votes. Winners will be declared at the conclusion of the Redneck Rumble.
The competition is broken into three classes: Rat Rod, Rat Bike, and Open. The number one thing to remember is that this is a RAT ROD COMPETITION. We don't want customs, art cars, farm implements, or whatever... whether it's traditional, extreme, a beat up pickup - as long as it is something you would see in Rat Rod Magazine, it fits the bill. The same goes for the bike side of things. You can use components from whatever you want, but build a RAT BIKE. If you're not sure, call the folks at Ride Hard or Rat Rod - they will point you in the right direction. We want competitors to be creative, and really there are no limits - however, the integrity of the competition is dependent on having cars and bikes that represent rat rod culture.
If your name is not drawn as one of the 12 rats or 12 bike competitors, or one of the alternates - you may still enter the Open Class. Entries in this class will follow the same general rules: keep it under $3000, log at least 300 miles... but there is no build time restriction. The top Open Class rat and bike will both be featured in the magazines along with the other class competitors. There is no need to sign up or register for the Open Class, just simply show up and document the build/drive as best as you can.
Rat Rod Class
Chris Walker, Defending Champ
John Rush, Indiana
Mason Dixon, Tennessee
Earl & Tim Richardson, Virginia
Rooster McGee, North Carolina
Gary Fisher, Oregon
Antonio Ingenito, New York
Darrell Heibel, Texas
Justin Nichols, Illinois
Dustin Isaacs, Minnesota
Jay Koch, North Dakota
David Hubbard, Washington
Skyler Gubser, Nebraska
(In order of succession)
Travis (no last name)
Mike Brown, Missouri
Zachariah Springer, California
Ty Cobb, Washington
Kyle Weingartz, Michigan
Jeremiah Gardner, Nebraska
Carl Pusser, Illinois
T Rod, New York
Rody Romick, Ohio
Dennis Hom, Texas
Casey Hueser, Missouri
Shane Bulger, Calgary
Nick Beaulieu, Maine
Ryan Pappa Gisclair